In order to be a smart consumer in a constantly evolving marketplace, one that produces many new products and services daily, it’s important to remember to do your research and know your responsibility as a customer. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with all of the choices when purchasing a new product or service. BBB reminds consumers to do their due diligence by researching, shopping around and knowing the rights and responsibilities associated when making a purchase.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that as a consumer, it’s your responsibility to educate yourself about your rights and to shop around and gather as much information as you can before making a purchase. By doing so, you are able to make the purchase process easier by knowing exactly what you need, how much your budget is, and what you will be responsible for.
Once you have thoroughly researched the product or service and are ready to buy, be sure to ask about return and refund policies, associated fees, warranties or guarantees, and all policies or procedures. It’s important to also ask for and keep any receipts, estimates or contracts that you receive in case of an issue in the future.
BBB recommends these steps to become a smarter shopper:
Do your research. Visit bbb.org to check out a business and read reviews or complaints. Carefully review the product, seller and/or business. Make sure that the business is licensed if necessary.
Get it in writing. Get a written copy of guarantees, warranties, refund and cancellation policies and any verbal promises. Be sure written documents cover everything discussed and include pricing.
Read through the contract. Whether it be an estimate, bid, or contract, read the entire document. There may be disclosures about fees or refund policies that you’re agreeing to. Once you sign a document, you have acknowledged the business’ rules and policies and agree to abide by them.
Know how warranties work. If you’re paying for an extended warranty, find out who manages that warranty, if the extended warranty differs from the standard warranty, and how the business deals with claims made.
Don’t sign something you don’t understand. Finally, if you have received a contract and you do not understand what you’re signing, don’t sign it. The business you’re dealing with has the legal right to take action against you for breach of contract, so be sure to fully understand it.